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Film Review: Beneath its Curious Surface, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ a Dangerous Menace to Society

CHICAGO – Strike one of far too many: “Fifty Shades of Grey” author Erika Leonard (better known as E.L. James) has never lived the BDSM lifestyle. And therefore, nor should she be writing about, romanticizing and profiteering on it. On a $40 million budget, the film earned $30.2 million on its opening Friday and is on track for a record-breaking international weekend grab of $158 million.

Film Review: ‘Magic in the Moonlight’ is Woody Allen By the Book

CHICAGO – After last year’s powerful “Blue Jasmine,” writer/director Woody Allen’s trajectory seemed destined toward another film masterpiece, but “Magic in the Moonlight” isn’t it. Colin Firth and Emma Stone are an unlikely pairing in this seen-it-before-Woody film trifle.

Film Review: ‘Parkland’ Starkly Recreates November 22, 1963

CHICAGO – It’s been close to 50 years since 11/22/1963, the day when a certain American innocence was lost with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In time for that anniversary, is the excellent film overview entitled “Parkland.”

TV Review: ABC Launches New Comedies ‘The Goldbergs,’ ‘Trophy Wife’

CHICAGO – It takes guts or stupidity to launch an entire night of new programing but that’s what ABC is attempting this evening, September 24, 2013. And they’re not even doing it consistently in terms of genre and quality. It starts strong with “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and ends on a whimper with “Lucky 7.” In between?

Blu-ray Review: ‘A Cat in Paris’ Has Fun Moments in Frustrating Movie

A Cat in Paris

CHICAGO – One of two surprising 2012 Oscar nominees for Best Animated Film (the other being “Chico & Rita”), “A Cat in Paris” was just released in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack Special Edition and viewers may be curious what enticed Academy members. The film has its diversions but it’s ultimately a film that only reminds one of better works and barely comes together. It would work as a TV special but its 62-minute length isn’t the only thing that keep it back from being a fully-realized feature.

TV Review: TNT’s ‘Scott Turow’s Innocent’ Deserves Prosecution

Scott Turow's Innocent

CHICAGO – With the success of mystery shows like “C.S.I.” and “The Mentalist,” why not try and bring back a staple of the ’70s and ’80s TV scene, the mystery movie of the week? Such is the thinking behind TNT’s programmers, as the network will debut a whopping four stand-alone mystery movies in the next month, starting with tonight’s debut of “Scott Turow’s Innocent,” starring Bill Pullman, Marcia Gay Harden, Alfred Molina, and Richard Schiff. Despite the stellar cast, this is a limp, dull effort that will only serve to remind viewers why they don’t make TV movies like this often any more.

TV Review: ‘Royal Pains’ Returns With Summer Prescription

Royal Pains

CHICAGOUSA’s “Royal Pains” was one of the most surprising hits of 2009, the #1 new show of the summer season, and it returns even more confident, entertaining, and close-to-perfect with its second season premiere on June 3rd, 2010. It’s highly unlikely that the show will lose any viewers and the buzz around the sophomore season and the release of the first on DVD should actually see numbers increase.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,’ ‘Mystic River’

Fear and Loathing BD

CHICAGO – I know what you’re thinking: What do “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “Mystic River” have in common? Nothing at all other than a Blu-ray release date of February 2nd, 2010. Oh, and they’re two films you should probably own if you have a Blu-ray player.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Spike Heels Stage Play

    CHICAGO – If you can remember the 1990s outside of childhood, you are in the glow of middle age, so congratulations. The Brown Paper Box Co. theater ensemble takes us back to those thrilling days of yesteryear with “Spike Heels,” a relationship comedy centering on the co-mingling antics of two couples, with a slight nod toward George Bernard Shaw and the play “Pygmalion” (or its musical counterpart, “My Fair Lady”).

  • Book of Merman, The

    CHICAGO – One potential theater-goer loves the “The Book of Mormon.” The other would rather stay home and watch old Ethel Merman YouTube videos. Pride Films & Theater offers the ultimate solution by combining both in a campy musical, “The Book of Merman.” Yep, two Elder characters from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meets foghorn singer Ethel Merman.

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